Titus and Amodei meet with VA Deputy Under Secretary Rubens to discuss veterans benefits backlog and announce senior level visit to Reno Regional Office

May 16, 2013
Press Release

May 16, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Representatives Dina Titus (NV-1) and Mark Amodei (NV-2) today met with U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations, Veterans Benefits Administration, Diana Rubens to discuss the growing disability claims backlog at the Reno VA Regional Office (VARO), which serves nearly 234,000 veterans living in Nevada and four California counties. Titus and Amodei serve on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs which oversees the VA’s benefits programs.

Titus and Amodei requested the meeting to share their concerns with Rubens that under the VA’s current resource allocation model, the Reno VARO does not receive the funding necessary to eliminate the backlog and expedite the claims process for Nevada’s veterans.

The average time to process and complete a claim is 513 days and the average pending claim has been in the system for 350 days. Claims currently pending (10,466) stand at twice the number processed by the Reno VARO for all of last year (5,651). In FY 2012, of 16 VAROs in the Western Area, the Reno VARO was one of only three to see its funding decrease despite having one of the largest claims backlogs in the country.

Titus and Amodei asked Rubens to work with Reno VARO Director Edward Russell to further ascertain the resources required to eliminate the backlog. During the meeting, Rubens outlined current actions that are already underway to improve performance at the regional office and confirmed that Under Secretary for Benefits, General Allison Hickey, will be visiting the Reno VARO next month. Rubens also agreed to keep Titus and Amodei updated on progress improvements at the VARO.  

“As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee that oversees the VA’s benefits systems, I am working to reduce the unacceptable wait for veterans in Nevada to receive the assistance they have earned and deserve,” Congresswoman Titus said. “I am pleased that Under Secretary Hickey has agreed to visit the Reno Regional Office to see the problem up close. We must ensure they have the resources they need to reduce the backlog and deliver benefits as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

“After meetings with VA Under Secretary Allison Hickey and now Deputy Under Secretary Rubens, I think they understand the old resources allocation model is inadequate to deliver the benefits Nevada’s veterans have earned,” said Amodei. “I will continue to work with the VA and my colleagues on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to find a solution for those veterans who are currently stuck in the backlog, as well as those who are returning home from overseas.”